Danger of some laminate wood flooring was underestimated, report says

The flooring was made in China and sold by Lumber Liquidators.

Story highlights

  • CDC: Health risks from formaldehyde in some laminate wood flooring are 3 times higher than initially reported
  • Report looks at risks from formaldehyde in products made in China and previously sold at Lumber Liquidators

(CNN)Everyone exposed to formaldehyde in some laminate flooring could experience adverse health effects, according to a revised report issued by several government agencies. The revised report, released Tuesday, also found lifetime cancer risk from the flooring to be higher than identified in the original version of the report.

The report, issued by the National Center for Environmental Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, says the issues are specific to laminate wood flooring produced in China and sold by Lumber Liquidators, based in Toano, Virginia. The company, which claims to be "the largest specialty retailer of hardwood flooring in North America," said it stopped selling the products last year.

    Calculation error

    "The revised report concludes that irritation and breathing problems could occur in everyone exposed to formaldehyde in the tested laminate flooring, not just in sensitive groups. The report also increased the estimated lifetime cancer risk from breathing the highest levels of formaldehyde from the affected flooring all day, every day for two years. The lifetime cancer risk increased from the previous estimate of two to nine extra cases for every 100,000 people to between six and 30 extra cases per 100,000 people," the CDC and ATSDR said Tuesday.
    "The American Cancer Society estimates that up to 50,000 of every 100,000 people may develop cancer from all causes over their lifetimes," the CDC said.
    The original report found the risk was three times lower than the risk identified in the new report. First released on February 10, the report was pulled from the agency website on February 19, "after it was discovered that an incorrect value for ceiling height was used in the report's indoor air model, resulting in a miscalculation of airborne formaldehyde concentration estimates," according to a statement announcing the revision.

    How it began

    Last year CBS News aired a story by CNN's Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes" that found formaldehyde levels in certain laminate products exceeded standards set by the California Air Resources Board.
    For the story, "60 Minutes" did its own testing on laminate flooring available at Lumber Liquidator stores in five states. Thirty-one boxes were tested from Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas and Virginia.
    This prompted the Consumer Product Safety Commission to run its own tests of these products manufactured in China between 2012 and 2014. Then it asked the CDC and the disease registry to review the test results and reassess the health effects.
    Formaldehyde from the tested products can result in irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Breathing problems can occur in individuals with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.
    In March 2015, Lumber Liquidators said it would continue to sell the products, but in a press release issued Tuesday the company said it stopped selling the products in question in May 2015.
    The new report has been independently reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban